I met the chef on Halloween when I was out with my boyfriend who was dressed as Jesus. I did not want to go to the tavern; but we were from out-of-town, and that was where our friends, who were a boy and a girl but not boyfriend and girlfriend, had decided to take us. My boyfriend dressed as Jesus because he already looked like Jesus, with a slight physique and flowing beard-and-head-hair. And his friends didn’t have another idea for him.
They had an idea for me: a banana. I wore a yellow sweatsuit belonging to the girl, and a droopy construction paper headpiece pinned to my head. The girl said it was the cutest costume. When she left the room, the boy told me she thought it was ugly, which was why she had given it to me. Instead, she dressed as an Arabian princess, which allowed her to wear more eye makeup than she could wear in her actual life.
The tavern was crowded with all the characters you’d expect to see at a tavern on Halloween—many pirates, many wenches. I ditched my boyfriend as well as our friends and went to the bar. I stood next to the chef because he wore no mask.
“Hello,” he said, leaning over toward me a little.
“Hi,” I said. And then I recognized his face. “Hello, chef.”
“No, no,” he said, “don’t give away my true identity.”
I felt ashamed. Then I realized he had been all over cooking television shows, and he had initiated the conversation in the first place.
“But you’re not wearing any disguise. If you didn’t want to be recognized, you’d have worn a disguise.”
“Very good, ma petite banane,” he said. He ordered me a Grappa.
“Strange for a tavern,” I said.
“I always bring my own bottle,” he said. He winked at me, the same way I had seen him wink at the camera while seasoning a fine fish soup.
“See that Jesus over there?” I asked.
“He’s my boyfriend,” I said.
Then we got drunk on Grappa. I watched the other people flirting and yelling. I took off my headpiece. I became very hot in my sweatsuit, and was ready to go home with the chef when my boyfriend appeared.
“Guess what?” he said. “There’s another Jesus here. But he said I looked way better, so he bought me a beer.”
He smiled. He thought the chef was a fake chef, I could tell.
“Very good,” I said. I put a hand over my glass so the chef could not fill it again, and he, being a man of food and women, understood what the gesture was meant to convey.
We rode the train back to our friends’ apartment. Being from out-of-town, I liked watching things blur together—the lights, the buildings, my silhouette, my boyfriend’s—despite how different one thing is from everything else.
Kate Lorenz is the editor of Parcel. Her work has been published in The Denver Quarterly, and by Blue Hour Press and Small Fires Press.